Thursday, 12 March 2009

Lets get this show on the road...

Okay, lets start with some basic stuff to get us going on here:

Would you be kind enough to give your understanding of the word 'Christian', in the context of -

A Christian is a person who...


  1. ...has been awakened to faith by the Holy Spirit, consequently recognizing their character as reconciled sinners, and seeking to bear witness in word and deed to the foundation of that fact in Jesus Christ and the God of the Gospel.

  2. Interesting...

    What is 'faith' in this context? In what way, by what means are they 'reconciled'?
    Is 'bear witness in word and deed' another way of saying: "tell people what has happened to them"? If so, what HAS happened in your opinion?

    Thank you for taking the trouble to post - I hope you'll do so again...

  3. Faith is the recognition / acknowledgment of one's status as a reconciled sinner.

    Bearing witness is, through speech and action, telling those who are not yet aware of their reconciled status that they are in fact reconciled with God in Christ.

    Just FYI, I work in a broadly Reformed and Barthian orbit.

  4. So, is Faith a cognitive thing? A 'sinner' must basically ascribe to various theological propositions and then they're 'in' (I am NOT being facetious, just seeking clarification...)

    What does 'reconciled with Christ' mean? Do we Feel it? Do we Know it? Can others See it?

    I do really appreciate your thoughts and I also appreciate that its by definition difficult to crystalise such complex issues into a simple form, and yet...

    Well, I guess this kind of definition just leaves me thinking of a cerebral transaction, i.e. something people must DO rather than a real inner change that God does to US...

    Its all fascinating stuff though isn't it? Thanks for being involved...

  5. Faith has always been cognitive in the Reformed tradition, although not merely cognitive. It is something of a self-involving or personal knowledge. So, for Calvin, faith is a sure and certain knowledge of God's fatherly care for us in Christ. This isn't ascription to a set of propositions, but the confession of faith in Christ. It is what the church does every Sunday, although my formulation is a bit more theologically / conceptually specific.

    Insofar as we are aware of reconciliation in this self-involving way, we 'feel' it. Others see it on the basis of our speech and actions. What it means is that the estrangement between us and God caused by our sin has been overcome by God through Jesus Christ's bearing and expiating of our sin, reestablishing from our side a relationship of love between humanity and God.

  6. Thank you for unpacking that a little for me.
    It was nice to see LOVE get a mention in there :)

    PS I used to be a five-point Calvinist back in the day. I am sure that all of these stages of faith/realisation are essential to our journey towards God as we peer "through a glass darkly..."

  7. I would say that a Christian is someone who, being convinced that Jesus came from GOD, is committed to taking up Jesus' instruction to love GOD and love their neighbor, alongside and others of the same persuasion, in the power of the Spirit, awaiting in hope his return and the glorious summing up of God's so far revealed purposes for creation.

    The problem with this exercise is that something will always get left out, or not be adequately defined (especially in a blog comment!). For example, we might employ the title "Christ", which brings to mind an entire narrative of promise and purpose rooted in the OT and finding fresh meaning in Jesus in the NT. The phrases "came from GOD", "alongside", and "power" all need unpacking, so don't read too much into them. The nature of the truth simply cannot be explained in a few sentences.

    I guess our summaries reveal what we prioritize as crucial, but we should we should not imagine that because something is not mentioned that it is not believed.

    A thought in regard to the nature of being a Christian. It is both belief, emotion, and action. These all being interlinked and integral and I tried to express this in my suggested definition.


  8. What a fascinating response Eddie and thanks for highlighting again the oft-overlooked problems related to trying to crystalise our ideas in such a brief form. To be honest, this is a problem with language per se isn't it, as we try to apply the finite to the infinite.
    I love that patristic quote that "God is the great unknoweable One..." Now THAT really does take some unpacking.

    Thanks for dropping by Eddie, hope to see you again...

  9. According to 1 John a Christian is one who obey's God's commandments, loves other Christians and believes Jesus Christ both came in the flesh and is the Son of God.

  10. Far be it for me to disagree with a clear biblical injunctive BUT wonderful though this verse from 1 John is it surely doesn't give us the FULL picture/perspective on what it means to be a Christian.
    If it does it arguably reduces Christianity to no more than giving cerebral assent to various propositions and then being 'nice'...

    Yes, of course we need to be obedient, yes of course we need to love (just other Christians or everyone, including ourselves?) and of course we need to believe in Christ the God-Man BUT.... I still feel that this picture leaves out the ontological (essence of being) element of BEING a Christian rather than just DOING a bunch of stuff...

    Thanks for dropping by though Brian and for putting our comment firmly back on a biblical keel - this is ALWAYS a good place to be...

  11. Was John worried about giving the full picture? I don't know. It seems to me he saw some wolves in the sheep pen and had to get them out - thus his three letters. No wolves allowed.

    I would argue that a proper understanding of "the faith once delivered to the saints" would reveal that DOING flows out of BEING. Even so 2 John tells us we are commanded to walk in the truth - make it a way of life - to be walk in obedience, and to walk in love. Walking in love and obedience and truth should be a natural response to the love of God revealed in the human life of Jesus/

    Thus belief in Jesus Christ as the God-Man is more than intellectual assent but also a means of placing full trust and confidence on his claims and teachings. Trusting him for salvation.

    One simply cannot claim to know and love God and merely have intellectual assent to the divinity of Jesus Christ - there has to be evidence of the belief and the evidence John gives in his letter is obedience, love and belief/trust (not mere intellectual assent). Otherwise anyone could claim to be a Christian We are Christians because of God's Spirit which he has given us.

    Not sure if I said anything at all really but there it is.

  12. Brian,
    I think that you said a GREAT DEAL here! Certainly, I would side with your thinking that took us on from some of the earlier, response-to-proposition posts which, to be totally blunt, left me feeling really rather cold...
    Thanks for stopping by and adding warmth and humanity to our theological endeavour - two elements which are IMHO sorely needed in these days...